Thank you for considering me for MASA President-Elect. I have spent over 30 years in public education, serving in many roles. My education path began when I became an Industrial Arts Teacher, coach, and bus driver in Northwood, Iowa. We moved back to Minnesota, and I started teaching and coaching for Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (GFW) Schools. While at GFW, I moved from classroom teacher to Dean of Students to High School Principal and then Superintendent/Elementary Principal. For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of serving as Superintendent for New Ulm Public Schools.
Serving in smaller school districts has provided me rich and fulfilling experiences that have shaped who I am and how I lead. I have experience working with district curriculum, developing school budgets, planning district staff development, and administering many district assessments. Why do I mention this? When serving in smaller districts, we wear many hats, juggling what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis, while looking forward to moving the organization.
I currently serve as the Region 2 Superintendent Component Group Representative on the MASA Board of Directors. I have been in this position for two years. Prior to this, I was the Region 2 Chair and on the MASA Legislative Committee. I have worked collaboratively in our region as a member of our professional development committee, designing relevant and timely leadership sessions for our component group. For the past several years, I have assisted new Superintendents in our region through mentoring and collaboration.
Over the past two years, I have worked with MSBA to pass changes to the state Special Education Law resulting in all six of our initiatives becoming law and reducing the amount of paperwork and meetings Special Education teachers are required to do. This was a collaborative effort with our staff, other schools, MSBA, and MASA. This year, I am working with MSBA to find new ways for the state to support more Career Technical Education (CTE) programming in our schools. I am not afraid of the work required to pass legislation that will provide more opportunities for our students.
MASA is blessed to have great leaders at the helm. As an organization, we make a significant impact on learning each and every day. While COVID-19 may have taken us off our normal course, we quickly adjusted and found ways to meet our students’ and families’ needs. Public education provides all of our students an opportunity to reach high and far. As an organization, we are the standard-bearer for promoting public education and the great work every one of our school districts is doing each and every day. Thank you for considering my candidacy for MASA President-Elect.
First, I want to congratulate Jeff Bertrnag and Laine Larson for advancing to the general election. Jeff and Laine are outstanding superintendents who I would be proud to have either of them representing MASA.
But, today, I am asking for your vote.
You previously received an email message with my qualifications for the position, so I’ll dispense with that. Today, I’m sharing three things I’d like you to consider about my candidacy: my experiences, my collaborative communication style, and my commitment to advocating for Minnesota superintendents, central office administrators, and technology leaders.
I have had experience in a variety of settings -- I grew up in New York’s Finger Lakes region and did my undergraduate work at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. I student taught in the New York City Public Schools, giving me experience living and working in a dense urban community. After moving to Minnesota, I taught in Madelia -- a small school district in the southwest part of the State. I worked as an administrator in Belle Plaine, a growing exurban community at the edge of the Twin Cities. These experiences allow me to understand how various issues impact districts of different sizes and locations. I will always keep that in mind as MASA president.
My communication style is collaborative and focuses on getting things done. My training as a cognitive coach has given me the tools to listen intently, synthesize many perspectives, and advocate for solutions that do the most good for the most people. These skills will be useful as our organization supports superintendents leading their districts and communities out of the pandemic. Leadership matters, and charting a better way forward for Minnesota’s students -- one that is truly equitable for EVERY student in our State - will be our most important job.
I will be your advocate. Our jobs have never been more challenging, and at the same time, there have never been more opportunities for us to improve our State’s educational system. I will sustain critical relationships and fiercely, yet tactfully, champion our organization as the most valued voice for Minnesota’s students. As superintendents, central office administrators, we understand the entire educational landscape. We understand the schools are run by people. We understand schools run with systems. When we partner people and systems we can do excellent things for our students.
Our organization is in an excellent position. I would consider it a privilege to represent you in the role of MASA president-elect. Thank you for your consideration.
It is my honor to be nominated to serve as MASA’s President-Elect. I began my career in education as a Family and Consumer Science Teacher with Bagley Public Schools. It was here that I adhered to the professional motto that has since hung in my office, “Putting Students First, Pursuing Educational Excellence for All.”
I completed my master’s degree in Special Education and for the past 22 years, have served as a district administrator and Superintendent in greater MN, in three diverse-sized communities: Bagley, Thief River Falls, and Brainerd. In my time as Superintendent, I have collaborated with colleagues to enhance, promote, and provide equitable teaching and learning opportunities for all learners. Below, I share with you my seven-point platform, which I believe will make me an effective MASA President-Elect.
As your MASA President-Elect, I will:
RelationshipBuilding & Partnerships: Build solid relationships to advocate for and lead MASA and MN’s educational system. Developing strong partnerships is my professional approach as I connect with students, staff, community, and colleagues throughout the state. I lead with respect, honesty, professionalism and a smile on my face.
Academic Achievement & Professional Supports: Work to lead achievement gap closures for all learners. In the face of COVID-19, my skills are important as we implement best practice interventions and apply common-sense principles. I have evidenced this by expanding early learning, special education, core curriculum, career and technical education, and advanced placement - in effort to develop our future workforce. I engage with leadership teams in research-based professional development, mentorship, and the MN Principals Academy.
Equity-Driven Education: Tackle the inequities that exist in our current educational system. My skills and experiences working in diverse school districts has positioned me to take on this challenge. In all three districts, we developed strong multidisciplinary teams to guide the educational needs of our American Indian students and those students living at or below poverty level. Brainerd Public Schools has publicly committed to equity and inclusion for all students by leading a district and community-wide effort to address racial inequities.
Recruit, Support and Retain Teachers: Work with our legislative partners to support programs that encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession… and in my opinion, the most important profession in the world! I will advocate for programs to recruit, retain and support outstanding practitioners and in particular, indigenous and teachers of color.
Robust Communication: Provide transparent and effective communication to all members. I am successful at bringing stakeholders together to reach consensus and will demonstrate this skill as MASA President-Elect. I build trust, resulting in four successful referendums, positive union negotiations, and assembling first class administrative and instructional leadership teams.
21st Century Learning Environments: Prioritize 21st century learning environments to ensure that our students can go to school feeling safe and secure while our teachers educate our future. I am most noted for my work in passing voter-approved bond referendums. Together, our teams have passed referendums from $14M-$205M, with safety being the primary goal. To ensure healthy learning environments, we must also provide robust mental health and social emotional support for students and staff.
Strong Fiscal Oversight & Management: Support members with the difficult management decisions required by our profession, ensuring strong fiscal oversight, operational accountability, and management. Over the past 15 years as district superintendent, I have successfully balanced fluctuating enrollments and varying funding allocations while prioritizing district needs. I will use these skills to provide support to MASA colleagues.
My work in Minnesota public education has not been limited to the school districts in which I have been employed. I have collaborated with colleagues across Minnesota through MASA, MREA, MREA, Sourcewell, regional cooperatives, and other professional organizations:
● 15 years of active membership in MASA, MREA, and MSBA; ● MASA member on the Executive Director Selection and Learning Model Transitions teams; ● Presentations at regional and state professional conferences on voter-approved referenda and budgeting, community and staff engagement, women in leadership, and MN Principals Academy; ● Recruitment efforts by MASA and MREA for nomination as MDE Commissioner of Education; ● Legislative testimony on behalf of MASA and MREA. Numerous visits to the MN State Capitol in cooperation with superintendents from Regions V & VIII; ● Speaking engagement and participation in several local and civic organizations; ● Region VIII MASA Administrator of the Year and MASA Administrator of Excellence; ● Red River Valley Emerging Leader; ● Two-time National Honor Society Teacher of the Year; and ● Christa McAuliffe Teaching Fellowship.
I am humbled to be a candidate for MASA President-elect and am honored to work alongside each and every one of you, my dedicated and committed colleagues. It brings me great satisfaction to know that together, we have the ability to empower our current education system and positively change our future.
Thank you for considering me for the MASA President-Elect. If elected, I will work tirelessly on your behalf and for the best interests of all of the children in Minnesota and beyond! Thank you.